What Can You Not Do In A Listed Building
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A common question from period building owners is: what can you not do in a listed building? David Rudge Associates offer listed building repairs throughout Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. We look at listed building consent and when it is required.
What can you do to a Grade 2 listed building?
In this article, we'll take you through the various restrictions listed properties are subjected to. We'll explain what is and isn't possible for property owners. It may sound like you can't do anything to a listed property without consent. However, there are a few small repairs and maintenance tasks you are free to perform. For example, repainting walls that aren't stone usually won't require listed building consent. Essentially, you'll only need consent when you are making "material changes" to the property. The exterior of a listed property is usually scrutinised more than the interior.
So, while you may be able to repaint your kitchen, repainting external doors or window frames might be trickier. Especially if you want to repaint them a different colour. The safest course of action is to always check with your local authority before making any changes, whether "material" or otherwise.
They will know what restrictions apply to your particular property and can tell you what you can and cannot change. You should never go ahead with any alterations without consulting these authorities first. If you do, you may face serious penalties and be forced to return the property to its original state. All of these will be at your expense, so it's always prudent to check before doing anything.
What can't you do to a Grade II listed building?
Older properties have a charm that is hard to resist for some would-be homeowners. The idea of living in a weather-worn property is some people's idea of heaven. However, there are certain responsibilities that come with owning older properties, especially if they are listed.
Despite the history and high ceilings that draw many people to listed properties, they also come with certain restrictions. Listed buildings are legally protected against alterations and certain types of renovation. This can be due to their historic interest or the traditional building methods used to construct them. Some of the restrictions imposed on listed buildings can be complex, with many owners not sure what they can and cannot do.
There are, however, certain things that definitely aren't possible, regardless of any consent you might secure. These absolute restrictions include:
- Removing features of the property such as fireplaces, decorative stonework, mullions or panelling.
- Cleaning stonework.
- Removing gates or boundary walls.
- Painting or rendering existing stonework.
- Removing chimney stacks or chimney pots.
- Adding flues, pipes or alarm boxes to the front of the building.
- Using the wrong materials when repointing the stonework. Many listed properties use lime mortar as a binding agent. Therefore, you can't repoint a listed property with anything other than traditional lime mortar.
What is listed building consent?
Listed building consent is the permission you need from your local planning authority to make changes to a listed property. It is a criminal offence to materially change, extend or demolish a listed building without consent. When you want to make a change to your listed property, you must propose your plans to your local authority.
They will then determine whether your changes will maintain the character and historic interest of the building. Listed buildings are rare and important to UK culture and history. They, therefore, need to be protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy and learn from. So, if you have your plans rejected, you shouldn't take it personally, however frustrating it might be. Conservation areas are another thing to consider when altering any property.
Even if your property isn't listed, if it stands in a conservation area, it is still protected. It is also an offence to demolish or alter buildings in these areas. If you want to propose changes, the process is similar to changing listed properties. You must submit your plans to your local planning authority for approval. If you're unsure whether your property is in a conservation area or is listed, you can ask your planning authority for advice.
What is a listed building?
Having covered the restrictions placed on listed properties, it will be useful to determine what a listed building actually is. A property may be listed due to its national importance, whether due to its historic or architectural interest.
It won't be surprising to learn that the "list" itself is called the "List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest". It is generated by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the government. The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act of 1990 determines which properties can join the list. The list includes a wide range of structures, including:
Each of these is categorised into three grades:
Grade I: Buildings of national importance with outstanding architectural or historic interest.
Grade II*: Buildings of special merit, such as those with noteworthy interiors.
Grade II: Buildings of particular architectural or historic interest. If a property is on the list, under any grade, the whole building is protected. This includes the exterior, interior any attached structures and surrounding land. Any features around the property that were built before the 1st of July 1948 are also protected. This includes gates, railings, fences, boundary walls and even garden features.
When is listed building consent required?
Again, any demolition, extension or alteration you want to make to a listed property requires listed building consent. This goes for any part of the property, internally or externally.
Only when your local planning authority has approved your plans can you start any work. One way to give your plans a good chance of being accepted is by using like-for-like materials. Additionally, if you're carrying out vital repairs with these materials, you might not need consent at all.
Essentially, maintaining the character of the property is the most important thing. It's always best to check first to avoid getting into trouble. Your planning authority can tell you what changes do and do not require listed building consent.
In any case, you won't be allowed to demolish a listed building unless there is no other alternative. If you are given permission to demolish a listed property, you must notify the appropriate authorities beyond your local ones. These include Historic England. You must notify them so they can update their records concerning the property.
They might even advise against demolition if the property is of particular historic or architectural interest. Any demolition you get approved for cannot take place until three months after your initial notification. Applying for listed building consent is free, and you can do it in the same way as applying for planning permission. Depending on the property you want to demolish, your local authority may have to consult Historic England to see if it is of particular historic or architectural interest. If this is the case, you won't be able to demolish it.
What happens if I don't get listed building consent?
Carrying out works on a listed property without listed building consent is a criminal offence. The first thing you will have to do is reverse all the changes you've made at your own expense.
You must return the property to the original level of historic and architectural interest. Not only will your local authority demand this, but they can also prosecute you in the courts.
In the worst cases, those who have altered listed properties can face a prison sentence. There are also unlimited fines for those breaking these laws.
So, whatever work you want to carry out on a listed property, however desperately, it definitely isn't worth the penalties you could face without consent. Going through the proper channels is the best policy, and if your plans are rejected, there's little you can do about it.
David Rudge Associates offer listed building repairs throughout Staffordshire, Shropshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. To find out more information about our listed building restoration work, please follow the link below to find out more about our services.